India and the US on Wednesday held extensive talks on jointly developing various military hardware and transforming the defence engagement into an enduring partnership between the two countries.
The talks, under the 7th Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), were held amid the strain in Indo-US ties in the wake of Washington slapping sanctions on Russia which is impacting defence deals between New Delhi and Moscow.
The Indian side was headed by Secretary (Defence Production) Ajay Kumar while the US delegation was headed by Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition Ellen M Lord.
The focus of the meeting was to create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defence equipment, officials said.
They said Kumar highlighted steps taken by India to promote Indian defence industries under its 'Make in India' initiative.
Referring to large defence outlay planned for India's military requirements, he said there is huge scope for growth of the domestic defence industry in partnership with foreign majors.
Lord said the US has designated India as a 'Major Defence Partner' and expected the defence relationship between the two countries to be further strengthened.
"She also stated that DTTI is an important forum leading to the 2+2 dialogue between the two countries," the defence ministry said in a release.
In June 2016, the US had designated India as "Major Defence Partner" intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
A number of Joint Working Groups have been established under DTTI to take forward mutually agreed projects.
The ministry said the joint working group handling the surveillance platform projects has made considerable progress.
"The Indian Navy joint working group is constructively engaged with US Navy for aircraft carrier technology cooperation," it said.
There have been growing concerns in India over the US sanctions against Russian defence majors including Rosoboronexport as billions of dollars of military purchases may be impacted because of the punitive measure.
The US had announced sanctions against Russia under the stringent law for its alleged meddling in the American presidential election in 2016.
CAATSA mandates the Donald Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.
Last week, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the S-400 Triumf air defence missile deal with Russia will go ahead notwithstanding the US sanctions on military transactions with Moscow.
India wants to procure the long-range missile systems to tighten its air defence mechanism, particularly along the nearly 4,000-km-long Sino-India border.